Up front, this is a pretty readable week with not a lot of disappointing issues. For the most part, DC has been pretty stable post-rebirth, and even the weakest issues at least tend to be very status quo and traditional. That’s not a bad thing. It is too bad DC couldn’t do a broader showcase on Free Comic Book Day rather than just reprint an issue of Wonder Woman, because there’s a lot out there that’s good reading.
Action Comics #979 (Jurgens/Zircher/Hi-Fi): Action Comics has been very transitional of late, setting up the bridge between “Superman Reborn” and whatever comes next. It looks like “next” is both a new Metropolis status quo for the Kents (thanks for spoiling the end of Superman’s story for us) and a neo-classic set of villains straight out of Jurgens’ last glory days run on the Man of Steel. Amazingly, Jurgens even manages to reference a scene from one of his classic issues? Can you spot it? Go on, I’ll give you a minute. Rating: Three capes out of five.
All-Stat Batman #10 (Snyder/Albuquerque/Scavone/Fiumara/Bellaire/Mulvihill): It’s getting so that it’s humanly impossible for Batman to have this many appearances in a given month. At least Snyder’s All-Star Batman reads as a book that’s fairly off to the side of mainstream continuity, and it’s better for it. This one presents Bruce and Alfred in some international intrigue with pirates, stolen paintings, Batman impersonating the guy who’s impersonating him, and a baseball game. Albuquerque’s art is a little too muddy to be effective on this book, but if you get past that, the story works. The backup is OK if you’re into stories about Bruce impersonating a Russian fight club member. Rating: Three bats out of five.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #10 (Benson/Benson/Antonio/Passalaqua): A year ago, I complained that the “Rebirth” issue of Titans had an annoying “friendship is magic” theme going. This issue of BATBOP has a similar vein, but maybe a little less hokey. These girls care about each other, and it’s that caring which keeps a hypnotic villain from overcoming them in the end. This issue is, well, readable, and it ties in storylines going on in Green Arrow and Nightwing to boot, so this issue and the prior one may be worth picking up if you’re reading either of those books. Rating: Three birds out of five.
Detective Comics #956 (Tynion/Takara/Maiolo): OK, now I want an Amanda Waller/Ra’s Al Ghul fight, since this week both are the master of supreme dickery and manipulation in getting what they want. Otherwise, this is a typical status quo ante wrapup to a big storyline, with the heroes beaten but maybe a little wiser in the aftermath. Seriously, Gotham took quite the pounding in this storyline, and it’ll be curious to see if the results are actually reflected in future issues, or if this will be another Zero Year/Contagion/Cataclysm disaster that comes and goes, remembered but not significant. Rating: Two and a half bats out of five.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #22 (Venditti/Sandoval/Tarragona/Morey): Now we’re getting some longer-term payoff on this title; it turns out Hal’s actions from much earlier in this series have come back to bite him and put two Corps in Jeopardy. The only problem is that Rip Hunter isn’t very well-integrated into this story—his presence is interesting, but not particularly significant. Good issue, but still lacking that special something to make it great. Rating: Three and a half rings out of five.
Justice League America #6 (Orlando/MacDonald/Hi-Fi): So, two problems with this book. First, it’s unclear why it still exists, and maybe that requires us to be patient. Still, it’s basically Batman with a bunch of B-grade Justice Leaguers, and the main event is over in Bryan Hitch’s title. Second, this title has an inconsistent art team—six issues in and this book has flipped among three different artists. That may be necessary with the biweekly schedule, but it’s going to look just awful in trade. Anyway, this week we get to see Ray cut a vital organ out of Lobo, so…yay? Rating: Two leagues out of five.
New Super-Man #10 (Yang/Tan/Zhang/Zhan): Kenan Kong continues to be an arrogant little S.O.B. who’s caught up in having way too much fun with his power. Of course, he makes it look fun, having an amusing race against China’s new Flash in imitation of a classic story. Of course, Kenan’s still not paying attention to anything, so this issue’s last-page surprise catches him as much as the rest of us off-guard. Actually, the cover will fool you a bit—it looks like a classic character is returning, but no. Otherwise, New Super-Man remains a decent “youth” oriented book and is worth following—hopefully not before an untimely end. Rating: Three and a half qi out of five.
Scooby Apocalypse #13 (Giffen/DeMatteis/Eaglesham/Derenick/Duursema/Hi-Fi): Scooby Apocalypse is kind of like “Rebirth” in general in that it’s been going on for a year-ish and yet no closer to solving its mysteries. (The real Scooby kids would have solved it in half an hour.) The gang is getting a bit nastier too, particularly Velma, who finally gets her comeuppance over her tyrannical older brother. And then there’s Scrappy, and his story also foreshadowing a pretty dark turn. Not bad, but definitely not a cute update like the other Hanna-Barbera books have been. Rating: Three Scooby Snacks out of five.
Suicide Squad #17 (Williams/Daniel/Florea/Underwood/Morey): Ewwwwwwwww. How messy is the Squad? Besides being caught in a giant hack and slash operation that results in them meeting their Russian doubles, we also get Waller being queen bitch again. Surprisingly, it never gets old. The only thing uglier than that is the lengths Zod will go to get out of being Waller’s prisoner: the last page isn’t pretty, although this issue’s art sure is. Rating: Four giant mallets out of five.
Supergirl #9 (Orlando/Ching/Atiyeh): This is a bit of a jumbled issue that forcibly inserts Batgirl into National City just to have an excuse to squeeze her into Supergirl. There’s nothing wrong with a girl-power team-up, but the mechanism by which it happens is a bit forced. Add to that the come-and-go appearance of a surprise villain (whose backstory seems to be confused with a different but related villain), some stilted dialogue for Supergirl, and Ching’s art looking sketchier than usual, and this issue just isn’t that great. Rating: Two and a half capes out of five.
Superwoman #10 (Perkins/Segovia/Thibert/Hi-Fi): How does DC keep Superwoman interesting when the entire series was premised on the post-New 52 weirdness of the Super-titles? New author K. Perkins tries to get into Lana’s head and figure out what makes her tick, as well as giving her a new powerset that’s a lingering remainder of her old powers and a nod to old DC continuity. The book’s OK, but not really a standout, and it’ll be curious to see how long Superwoman lasts now that the Rebirth mystery she was premised on is gone. Rating: Three capes out of five.
The Winner: Suicide Squad was pretty readable. I worry that this book will turn into a one-note joke piggybacking on a semi-important summer movie, but this issue lets the title hold its own and even impresses.
The Loser: Supergirl just isn’t doing much on the TV show’s coattails. The art gets weaker each issue, and it reads like a bad version of the show. I know that comics are often shaped by their mass-media counterparts (rather than the other way around), but this book needs to either fully embrace the CW show or else just go in its own direction. This half-and-half hybrid just isn’t cutting it.